Thursday, March 19, 2015

Neelima Shah & Lucca

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Neelima Shah. I’m a program officer at the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation. We are a regional foundation working to protect the vitality of natural ecosystems by building sustainable, healthy, vibrant, equitable, and prosperous communities. Our geographic focus includes the major metropolitan areas in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

My dog’s name is Lucca. She’s an eight-year-old half lab and half golden retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

At the Bullitt Foundation every day is “take your dog to work day.” Lucca comes to work with me on days that I don’t ride the bus or my bike. She especially loves to attend big meetings where she can socialize and love and be loved by a lot of people.

What's brewing?

Homemade chai tea with lemongrass and ginger.

Any treats for you or Lucca on this occasion?

Lucca’s favorite treats are apples and pears, but she’s a lab so she enjoys eating anything. I do keep peanut butter dog treats from Trader Joe's at the office so other people can give her treats.

How did Lucca get her name? Any nicknames?

My husband and I both love Italy and each have a very close friend that live in Northern Italy. We love the food and the wine. We were brainstorming things that reminded us of Italy and we came up with Lucca – a city in Tuscany (also a major wine producing region).

How were you and Lucca united?

Our good friends introduced us to Lucca. Their dog Lana is Lucca’s sister from a previous litter. They have a friend in Twisp, Washington with a lab and a golden retriever that had a few litters of puppies. We fell in love with Lana and then in love with Lucca. They are both very friendly, smart, and athletic dogs (retrievers that live for retrieving).

What are Lucca's chief duties as Chief Comfort Officer (CCO) at The Bullitt Foundation?

Lucca’s job is to make sure everyone in the office is happy. Research shows that just being around and petting a dog reduces people’s heart rate and blood pressure. Lucca ensures that staff feel good. She does this by greeting, licking, playing and begging. She attends large and small meetings. She starts the meeting by visiting with attendees and then relaxing right next to her owner. When we’re not in meetings, Lucca has free reign of the office. She spends a good deal of time visiting with different staff, begging, and generally making people feel good.

My old colleague always told me that being a good program officer requires having excellent judgment. Lucca, like many dogs, is a very good judge of character – so she helps me with my job.

Before the Bullitt Foundation moved into its new space at the Bullitt Center, Lucca came to work with me. I think she inspired the Bullitt Center’s dog-friendly policy.

Who is Lucca's best pet-pal?

Lucca is absolutely in love with two giant breed Leobergers -- Oden and Thor --who live down the street. She loves playing with them, even though we’re always afraid she’ll get crushed. They are about 3x her size, but she always gets the last word (or pee as the case may be).

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Lucca loves anything that she can retrieve… but especially half deflated soccer balls.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels for sure. I love the look of Lucca when she on the hunt for a squirrel.

What is Lucca's best quality?

I can’t pick just one because she is the perfect dog. She is beautiful, smart, well behaved, loyal to end, loving and athletic. She’s my companion and I can take her anywhere. In addition to work, I’ve taken her to Bullitt Foundation board retreats, acupuncture and massage appointments, wine tasting, the bank, dog-friendly coffee shops and restaurants, and to parks for children.

Kids at the park absolutely love her because she is doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.

Lucca is my best friend and companion. I trust her unconditionally and love her with all my heart.

If Lucca could change one thing about Seattleites, what would it be?

Let dogs go more places and off leash -- especially the beach!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Lucca could speak, which actor should do her voice?

The character “M” from James Bond played by Judi Dench. Lucca is so smart, I think she could lead a spy agency – maybe the DIA – the Dog Intelligence Agency.

If Lucca could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

Did having a little sister (our two year old daughter) ruin your life or make it better?

Or: Do you know how much we love you?

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. I love this so much! It is wonderful to have a dog-friendly office - I don't know how I would get through the day without my Ripple...she is such a calming influence for me, and always reminds me about what's important (mostly mid-day snoozes).

    Thanks for posting this, Neelima! And cheers to Lucca, the Wonder Dog.

  2. I think that working at a dog friendly job would be awesome.